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Nat Chem Biol. 2012 Sep;8(9):791-7. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.1040. Epub 2012 Jul 22.

A stand-alone adenylation domain forms amide bonds in streptothricin biosynthesis.

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  • 1Department of Bioscience, Fukui Prefectural Universifty, Fukui, Japan.


The streptothricin (ST) antibiotics, produced by Streptomyces bacteria, contain L-β-lysine ((3S)-3,6-diaminohexanoic acid) oligopeptides as pendant chains. Here we describe three unusual nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) involved in ST biosynthesis: ORF 5 (a stand-alone adenylation (A) domain), ORF 18 (containing thiolation (T) and condensation (C) domains) and ORF 19 (a stand-alone A domain). We demonstrate that ST biosynthesis begins with adenylation of L-β-lysine by ORF 5, followed by transfer to the T domain of ORF 18. In contrast, L-β-lysine molecules adenylated by ORF 19 are used to elongate an L-β-lysine peptide chain on ORF 18, a reaction unexpectedly catalyzed by ORF 19 itself. Finally, the C domain of ORF 18 catalyzes the condensation of L-β-lysine oligopeptides covalently bound to ORF 18 with a freely diffusible intermediate to release the ST products. These results highlight an unusual activity for an A domain and unique mechanisms of crosstalk within NRPS machinery.

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